Fatalism is at the core of Bahunbad: Dor Bahadur Bista

Sunday 06 November, 2016   |   Interview

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Fatalism is at the core of Bahunbad: Dor Bahadur Bista

How do you define Bahunbad?

Fatalism is at the core of the concept of Bahunbad. The proponents of Bahunbad believe that everything is determined in your previous life, and your hard work does not count. If you are rich and born into a so-called high caste, it is because you did good deeds in your previous life. This notion is detrimental to our growth and development of our civilization. It stops us from learning new things and doing hard works. Unless we get rid of this concept, we will never prosper. 

Is the Nepali society becoming more receptive to your idea of Bahunbad (Brahmanism)?

Youth have begun to understand what Bahunbad is.  They first slammed me for criticising the whole Bahun community, and their Hindu religion. But they now understand it is not against any particular caste or religious community. 

You are also a Sanskrit scholar. Were you happy when the government started broadcasting news on Radio Nepal in Sanskrit language? 

It was not necessary at all. Some short-sighted pundits believe that promotion of Sanskrit language is good for Hindu religion. The beginning of the broadcasting of news in Sanskrit from Radio Nepal is an outcome of their intense lobbying for promotion of Hindu religion. Sanskrit is a fully-developed language, and we do not need develop it any more. Sanskrit is the means to learn an infinite amount of oriental knowledge, which is important. Developing the language per se is not that important. The investment that we have made in developing Sanskrit language should be better utilized in promoting other dying languages like, say, Chepang. 

Youth have begun to understand what Bahunbad is.  They first slammed me for criticising the whole Bahun community, and their Hindu religion. But they now understand it is not against any particular caste or religious community. 

You say Khas people are also a Janajati community. What is your logic? 

Khas are poor, exploited and neglected like other Janajati communities. They have their own language, live in a certain geographical region and practice their own culture. They do not worship any Hindu gods, and do not have a Bahun priest. Although Nepali-Khas language evolved from their language, their original Khas language is different. 

In eastern Nepal, Swami Prapannacharya and Chhabilal Pokhrel spearheaded a campaign to encourage Janajati to wear Janai – a sacred thread worn by Bahuns. If Janajatis can be encouraged to wear Janai even today, imagine the socio-political situation in which Khas people were forced or lured to wear Janai six centuries ago. Bahun Pandits treated those Khas who agreed to wear Janai as a high caste, and treated those who refused as a low-caste. This historical injustice needs to be corrected, and this is why I am in Jumla.

You are in Jumla to implement the theories of your book 'Fatalism and Development'. How far have you reached? 

Bahuns never promoted progressive thinking. They always encouraged non-Bahuns to donate to them to reach the heaven after death. Their fatalistic thinking stunted the Nepali society's potential growth. This thinking was badly entrenched in the Khas community, so I decided to work among them. 

Janajatis are now asserting their rights to eat beef. What is your take on this controversy? 

Janajatis have always had beef in Nepal. It is historically a beef-eating country. Janajatis were stopped from eating beef only after Nepal was decaled a Hindu kingdom. Janajatis were forced to eat beef secretly, but now they are asserting their rights. Padmaratna Tuladhar just raised their voice.

Janajatis have always had beef in Nepal. It is historically a beef-eating country. Janajatis were stopped from eating beef only after Nepal was decaled a Hindu kingdom.

Why is the communal divide between the Aryas and the non-Aryas widening in the Nepali society? 

If we do not teach our children the history, this is what happens. They were not taught about the historical trajectories of the Aryas and the non-Aryas. So they began to believe that the Aryas were privileged to dominate the non-Aryas. 

The ancestors of the Khas-Arya people migrated more widely and faster than the non-Arya Kirant community. They raised cows, horses, goats, sheep and dogs, and relatively moved faster on the grassland. On the other hand, the ancestors of the Kirant community on the foothills of the Himalayas and the rain zones of southern China, Burma and Thailand. They raised pigs and buffalos, and moved slowly. The Khas-Arya swiftly moved eastwards, and dominated small ethnic groups en route. The Kirants were slow to migrate, and ended up being only a little farther west of Kathmandu. 

(This interview with anthropologist Dor Bahadur Bista was taken by journalist Gunaraj Luintel in 1995, when democracy was recently restored in Nepal and the issues of identity, secularism and pluralism were entering the political domain. Bista later mysteriously disappeared, and there is still no trace of him. But his views are still relevant, so we have translated some of his thoughts from his two decade-old interview) 

 


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